The Conquest of Death
by Helen Wilmans
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The strangeness of the title of this work, “The Conquest of Death,” will doubtless prompt some, into whose hands it may chance to fall, to lay it down without reading; for the conquest of death, they say, is impossible. Yet, who knows if it be so or not?
The Author of this work has discovered that the conquest of death is altogether within the law, and has sought herein to give some reasons for her belief, which she knows to be worthy of the highest consideration of all the people.Contents:
Can Death be Overcome? Writers of the Bible Believed that Death Could be Overcome; Immortality; Standpoint of Personal Experience; Effort of Jesus to Overcome Death; Growth of Public Opinion; Every Hope is the Sure Prophecy of its Own Fulfillment; Endless Creativeness of the Human Intelligence; One Mighty Factor in Race Growth is Thought; Man has no Fetters but Those of His Own Ignorance; Desire the Organizing Principle; Beliefs; Law of Attraction; Ego; Endless Progression; Health, Strength, Beauty and Opulence.
The contents of this book were published by the author some years earlier under the title "Blossom of the Century".
TO many, probably the majority of people, the question, “Can death be overcome?” will appear a foolish one, and a person a foolish person who would, in seriousness, ask it, expecting a serious answer. Yet the question has been asked in all seriousness by some of the greatest minds the world has known, and one whom the Christian world regards most highly has answered it affirmatively, if not with absolute directness. He said, “The last enemy that shall be overcome is death.”Where is one to whom has been given rightful authority to interpret this saying of St. Paul as meaning other than what he says–that when man should have overcome all other enemies, should have learned the law of the lightning and have harnessed it; when the winds and the waves had become his servants, and did his bidding; when on land and on sea man commanded the forces in nature, and was master over the elements, which, in his more ignorant state, he conceived to be engines of the gods, who used them in their anger for his destruction–who has authority or where is the reasonableness in saying that Paul did not mean to express that when man had thus far conquered he should also conquer death? I insist that the language quoted can, in reason, be given no other meaning, and has been otherwise construed simply because the mass of humanity has been unable to conceive of the possibility of immortality in the flesh, and so has been compelled, since it felt that it might not reject the saying, to attribute to it a meaning other than that which it was evidently intended by its author to convey.
Death is everywhere and universally understood to mean the dissolution of a bodily form. Where form does not exist there can be no dissolution, no death. It is absolutely certain, then, that when the apostle used the word, he did so because of the meaning which attached to it, and must, therefore, have meant one of two things–either that men would eventually learn the law by which life could be perpetuated in these bodies indefinitely, or that there existed spiritual bodies which were subject to dissolution and death, but which might be some time, though they were not yet, able to overcome death.
This latter supposition, that the spiritual body, of which the theologians make so much, is subject to death, is altogether antagonistic to the teachings of every religious organisation founded upon the Bible; and, since there are but two horns to the dilemma, it is to be hoped that in deciding between them theology will accept the former and concede that which is altogether the most reasonable; namely, that Paul intended to be understood as referring to our present fleshly bodies when he said death should finally be overcome.
The writer of this is not a theologian–not, at least, in the commonly accepted meaning of the word. She does not believe that all wisdom resided in those men who lived two thousand years ago, or that it died with them. She does believe, however, that there were minds in those days, as in more recent times, whose grasp of natural law so far exceeded that of the mass of humanity as to make their utterances unintelligible to other than the very few. The same condition of things exists today, though in a much less marked degree, the general diffusion of knowledge and the co-mingling of men and of nations having lifted the race to a plane so much above that upon which it stood two thousand years ago, as to have gone far toward obliterating the line between the most illumined of minds and the many.
But, though the line of demarcation is less distinct, it still exists, and exists largely because of the tendency of the race to cling to old ways and old habits of thought, rejecting the new, simply because it is new, and which, because it is new, appears strange and improbable.
The tendency toward investigation, due to the wonderful discoveries and inventions made within the last half of the century, has, however, so increased in all directions and among all classes–even the most stubborn adherents to ancient lines of thought–that no one need longer fear being considered mad who advances a new idea, provided he can sustain his proposition by a fair show of fact or logic; and it is because of this fact that I anticipate at least a respectful and thoughtful consideration of my work at the hands of the public. Conceding that I am off main-travelled roads, I yet insist that I am not only travelling in the right direction, as designated by the compass of reason, backed by logic, and not unsupported by fact, but that the way has been blazed by others who have preceded me in other centuries. I would not have it understood that I care very greatly whether anybody has ever passed along this way before, for I do not value truth because of its long residence among men; but I wish to give credit where credit is due, and, further, I am not above quoting precedent, if thereby I can gain a more attentive audience. I believe most sincerely that heaven is a condition, and not a place, and that it cannot be attained while the fear of death exists; death, which is nothing less than the removal by force, and without their consent, or of that of their friends, of human beings from all their associations and interests just when they are best prepared to be of most service to themselves and to the world.
If the reader likes, he may consider these writings as a protest against such a condition of things; but I would wish him to first ask himself if he is satisfied with such conditions, and if he knows as an absolute certainty that the power through which he came to exist as an individual is incapable of continuing, or has any settled objection to his continued existence.
The author of this work believes it entirely possible for the human race to overcome death. She believes that Jesus believed it, and that both before and since his time there have been others who believed in and sought for the overcoming of death, and that it will yet be attained. That it has not been is no argument to prove that it will not be. A very great many things that have not yet been proven will be some time. We knew little about steam or steam-engines, electricity or magnetism, or sound waves or the ether a century ago. And the most we now know about some of them is that there is much more to be learned than we yet know. We are only just beginning to get under the blanket beneath which Nature has hidden her secrets; just beginning to learn a little something about her and about ourselves. We are her children, the eldest and best beloved of our mother–the immortal, the deathless. Shall she not impart the secret of life to us, if by diligence in searching and faithfulness in obeying we prove worthy?
Most implicitly do I believe so.
When I say I believe it possible to overcome death and continue to live in our bodies, I do not mean that our bodies must, necessarily, continue exactly as they are. It is reasonable to suppose that they will gradually refine and become more beautiful, and that other senses than the five we now possess will develop, and men become more perfect in every way, physically, mentally and morally. This will be a growth, as all things else are, but growth will be much more rapid, though endless, when the fear of death has been removed through a knowledge of the law whereby life may be sustained indefinitely.
THE WRITERS OF THE BIBLE BELIEVED THAT DEATH COULD BE OVERCOMEIF we are to give credit, as I suggested, to those who before us sought to blaze the way to continued existence in our present bodies, we must begin with the author of the Book of Genesis. Turn now to that book of the Bible, and read that man was, according to the account there given, created immortal; that for eating of the forbidden fruit he was condemned to die. Death must here refer to the body; if not, then it could only mean annihilation–the absence of any future life whatever. If this latter construction be put upon it, it would utterly annihilate every proposition put forward by the theologians, and remove every stone of the foundation upon which rests the Christian church; nor would the Mohammedans fare better.
It would mean the rankest of materialism; for, if to die meant the death of what remained after the dissolution of the body, there could be nothing upon which to base a theory of salvation, since there would be nothing to save. Hence, when it was said to our first parents (as reported in Genesis, chap. 2, v. 17), “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” it must have referred to the death of the fleshly body. If he did not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil–that is, if he did not violate the law of his being, and so become conscious of being out of harmony with it, he would continue always to live; if he did do this, he would die.
I am not now arguing the inspired character of the Bible, nor do I intend to do so in any part of this work; let that be as it may, and let each student of it judge for himself. Whether it is divinely inspired or not is not a vital issue in this connection. Neither is it of vast importance that we agree as to who wrote the Book of Genesis, or when or where it was written. What I am seeking to point out is, that whoever the author may have been, and whether divinely inspired or not, he conceived man to have been possessed, at his first appearance upon earth, of the power to continue in the body indefinitely; that he lost this power through ignorance or failure to obey the law laid down for him; that thereafter he could have regained immortal life in the body and become as the gods, had he but eaten of the tree of life–i.e. gained such knowledge of the law of his being as would have put him in harmony with the one universal life. Put into plain everyday language, the Bible statement is that in ignorance man violated the law of life and became subject to death; but that if he had known more; if he had known enough to eat of the tree of life, which would have been to come into an understanding of the law of his being, he could have continued in the body as long as he wished, and could then have shaped things to his liking, as the gods were supposed to do.
That this is the thought which the authors of Genesis intended to convey is made doubly apparent, when we consider the fact that nowhere in the Old Testament is it made clear that its authors believed in an existence of a soul after the death of the body. This being the case, there is no other possible construction to be put upon the language in Genesis other than that its authors, whether inspired or not, conceived it possible that men might acquire the knowledge which should enable them to command the life forces, and so continue to live in their present bodies as long as they wished.
The authors of the Old Testament, then, were the first to suggest the possibility, if not to point the way, to immortality in the flesh through a victory over death. That Jesus of Nazareth believed also in immortal life in the flesh is evident in the restoration to life of Lazarus and others, and in declaring that he himself would return to life (restore life to his body) on the third day, and in the repeated healing of diseased bodies, which, if not healed, must speedily have succumbed to the disease by which they were affected.
And now I wish to ask the reader’s thoughtful consideration of this proposition. I ask it because of the magnitude of the interests involved, and because I believe that any who may have read thus far will have become sufficiently interested to, at least, be wil-ling to give the author a hearing, and the subject of which she treats a thoughtful consideration.
The question I wish to ask is this: If by any purely mental process health can be restored to a diseased body, is it not reasonable to suppose that the process can be continued indefinitely, and health, which means continued life, made permanent? In other words, if there is a law by the application of which disease may be eliminated from the system for a time, may it not be that the effect can be made continuous, and disease prevented from ever causing the dissolution of the body?
I do not forget that many–perhaps most people who believe that Jesus really did heal the sick–believed that he possessed miraculous powers; but I would call the attention of all these persons to his assertion that those who believed on him, or as he did, should do greater works than he had done. If he had considered his acts as outside of natural law, and due to some special relation which he bore to Godhead, he would not have declared that others who bore no such special relation should do greater things.
Let us be logical. The interests at stake are the greatest possible to conceive of, and no one among us can afford to do less than to bring to bear the best reasoning power of which he or she is possessed. Jesus did not claim to heal the sick by a power which might not be attained by any one who would follow his instructions, and he did say that others who should come after him should do more than he had been able to do.
Again I ask, if there exists a law by which, through purely mental processes, and without the use of drugs, diseases of the body can be removed, does it not follow logically that when we have a fuller understanding of the law by which this is done, we shall be able to remove all disease and continue life in the body indefinitely?
Dismissing as not vitally essential to the matter in hand at this moment the question of whether or not Jesus healed through an understanding of natural law, or by virtue of a special relation to a supreme power, I appeal to the ten thousands of living witnesses–people who are alive today because they have been healed by mental processes purely, after all efforts at healing by drugs administered by the most noted physicians had failed; I appeal to these witnesses to prove the existence of the law for the healing of disease, and claim that in their evidence is conclusive proof of the existence of a law, which, if understood and applied, will annihilate disease and give the victory over death.